State Library of South Australia logo Taking it to the edge
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

Difficulties laying the line : diary entry
Title : Difficulties laying the line : diary entry Difficulties laying the line : diary entry
Add To My SA Memory
Creator : Crowder, W. A., 1854-1891
Source : Crowder, W. A. D 8065(L)
Date of creation : 1871-72
Format : Diary
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

By July 1872 Crowder's party had left the camp on the Roper River and was in the bush, experiencing the difficulties of the work in erecting the Overland Telegraph Line. He was one of a party sinking holes for the poles to carry the wire for the Line. Alfred Giles with his team was laying the wire. Crowder described the spinifex that tore the skin and made it bleed; and how on 9 July the country was very rough and difficult for sinking the holes. Progress was painfully slow, and on 10 July writes that just under 1 mile of line was erected. On Saturday he collected some seeds from a creeper and on Sunday he did some washing and read a book. Finally he refers to a man named Moles who had been accidentally shot. Crowder's diary is a first hand account and day to day record of the toil of the men and the minor events of one of the greatest engineering feats in Australia's history.

Alfred Giles, in his account of the work of exploring and construction on the Overland Telegraph Line, makes no mention by name of WA Crowder, who was one of hundreds of men. He does however refer frequently by name to the men with with whom he worked personally, and records that in early July he was working in the same region as Crowder's work gang. Giles also refers to the incident of the man Moles. The Overland Telegraph Line was completed on 22 August 1872 and finally the Australian colonies were linked telegraphically to each other and to the world. It cost 239,588 pounds to build and 36,000 poles were erected. There were 11 repeater stations between Port Augusta and Port Darwin, and only six men died during the exploration and construction. The Line had been constructed despite the appalling conditions, and the necessity, particularly in the northern sections, of exploring unknown territory looking for a suitable route.
Related names :

Crowder, W. A., 1854-1891

Giles, Alfred, 1847?-1931

Todd, Charles, Sir, 1826-1910

Coverage year : 1872
Place : Powell Creek (NT)
Further reading :
Giles, Alfred, Exploring in the 'seventies and the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line Adelaide: Friends of the State Library of South Australia, 1995
Cameron, A. R The story of the Overland Telegraph Line: [a lecture] delivered 11.10.32 Adelaide: S.A. Postal Institute Lecture Society, [1932]
Moyal, Ann Clear across Australia: a history of telecommunications Melbourne, Vic.: Nelson, 1984
Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on